Exploring Sound with Chrome Music Lab’s Oscillator and Strings

This is a guest lesson plan by Katherine Miller.

About This Lesson

Technology can provide an opportunity for students to dig deeper in ways that may not have been possible without it! This is my favorite thing about incorporating technology into my classroom.

One example of this is using technology to further student understanding of sound.  With very few instruments outside of my classroom percussion instruments, teaching about sound production was difficult because it is hard to demonstrate and hard for students to apply. But with technology, this is no longer a barrier! It is easy to demonstrate sound vibrations, sound frequencies, and have students be able to experiment with these ideas on their own too! Take a look at how technology can enhance student learning by utilizing two Chrome Music Lab experiments.

This lesson utilizes both the Chrome Music Lab Oscillator and the Chrome Music Lab Strings experiments to enrich student understanding of sound and pitch.  Although there are many adaptations that can be made depending on what type of technology is available to your students, they will at least need to have access to the web using a computer, iPad, or mobile phone. This could be alone or using 1 device for multiple students.

MUSIC TECH LESSON PLAN

Exploring Sound with Chrome Music Lab’s Oscillator and Strings

Grade level

Elementary/Primary General Music

Objective

Students will be able to describe how sound is made.

Students will be able to identify how size correlates to pitch on string instruments.

Materials/Equipment

Optional additional materials:

  • Books: Mr. Brown Can Moo Can You? (Dr. Seuss)/A Listening Walk (Paul Showers)
  • Recordings: The Magic School Bus TV Series: In the Haunted House (Season 1, Episode 8)/Brain Pop String Instruments
  • Sound experiment materials:
    • Seeing sound waves: Tuning fork and Large Bowl with water
    • Dancing sound waves: Portable speaker, Large Bowl, Plastic wrap, rubberband, rice or salt
  • String instrument creation materials:
    • Tissue box, Paper, Pencil, Rubber bands, String, Yarn, Tape, Paper clips, etc.

Duration

1-4 lessons

Skills required

Students will need to be able to open a website (Chrome Music Lab).

Students will need to be able to fill out the student worksheets (either physically or on a PDF annotation app like Notability/Goodnotes/etc) or be able to discuss as a class via Webex/Zoom/Google Meets/etc.

(Optional) Students will need to be able to use a camera on their device to document their learning.

Procedure

Part 1: Introduction to Sound

  • Introduce Sound:

Begin the lesson by reading a book to get students thinking about sound. (Suggestions listed under additional materials)

  • Complete a Sound Hunt:

Walk around outside and/or in school/classroom. Students record the sounds they hear in their Book of Sound (paper or digital) on pages 1-3. Students should label or tell where they found that sound and what that sound is.  If they are working on this digitally, they can take a picture as well to remember what that sound was or where it was located (ie: faucet running, radio turned on, person tapping a pencil, smartboard, etc.)

Part 2: Defining and Demonstrating Sound

  • Define sound for students: Sound is a type of energy made by vibrations.
  • Conduct Sound Experiments 
    • Seeing sound waves:
      • Strike a tuning fork. Ask students to describe the sound it makes. Is the volume loud or soft? Does it make a high-pitch or low-pitch? Can you see the vibration?
      • Next, place the bowl of water in front of you with easy viewing for the students
      • Strike the tuning fork again, and place it on the surface of the water (not submerged into it).
      • The result: waves will form as the vibrations are transmitted through the water!
      • If available, have students use their device camera in SLO-MO! This video can be added to their Book of Sound as they complete the entry on page 4.
    • Dancing Sound Waves:
      • Take the empty bowl with a portable speaker inside of it and cover the open end with plastic wrap. 
      • Secure the plastic wrap  with a rubber band.
      • Sprinkle some salt  or rice on top.
      • Then, turn on the speaker.
      • The result: the rice/salt will start to dance as the sound waves move.
      • Try turning the speaker louder and softer. Discuss what happens to the rice/salt.
      • Try using the Chrome Music Lab Oscillator to see how the “dancing” changes as you change the frequency/pitch
      • If available, this is another great use for your SLO-MO camera 
  • Share a video recording for students to get more information about sound before completing page 4 in their Book of Sound. (Suggestions listed under additional materials) 

Part 3: Sound Exploration

  • Share the link for Chrome Music Lab Strings with students.
  • Have students explore and experiment with the different lengths of strings.
  • Have students complete page 5 of their Book of Sound as they explore. What do you notice? What is changing between each length? How does the length correlate to the sound you are hearing?
  • After work is complete, define pitch for students by sharing this poem: Small is high. Big is low. That is science we should know!

Part 4: Creating Sound/Music

  • Introduce students to the string family. What part vibrates on a string instrument to make a sound? What is the hole for? What can you tell about the sound of each member just from looking at it?
  • Make a string instrument:

Using what students have learned about how sound is created and the supplies you have gathered (suggestions listed under additional materials), have students work alone or in a group to create their own string instrument. Encourage students to think about how their instruments will not only create sound but be able to play different pitches. Students can record their thinking on page 6 of their Book of Sound.

  • If needed, page 7 includes pictures of the 4 main instruments in the string family to use as reference or color when students have completed all of their thinking.
  • Complete this project by asking students to use their instrument to play a simple high and low pattern.

Evaluation

Students will submit their complete Book of Sound.

Students will perform a simple high and low pattern using the instrument they created.

Further info

There are so many ways to connect this lesson plan to learning students might be doing in their general education classroom! Check out the science curriculum in your district to see if you can collaborate with other educators to further enhance student learning.

USA Music Education Standards

2. Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

8. Understanding relationships between music, the other arts, and disciplines outside the arts.

Australian Music Curriculum Standards

4.1 Develop aural skills by exploring, imitating and recognizing elements of music including dynamics, pitch and rhythm patterns

4.2 Practice singing, playing instruments and improvising music, using elements of music including rhythm, pitch, dynamics and form in a range of pieces, including in music from the local community

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About the writer

Katherine Miller

Katherine (Katie) Miller holds a Bachelor of Music in Education degree from Otterbein University (Westerville, OH) and a Masters of Educational Leadership from Antioch McGregor Midwest (Yellow Springs, OH). She has 15 years of professional musical experience as a music educator and performer.

She is currently employed by the School District of Waukesha in Waukesha, WI, where she teaches K-5 General Music and serves as a district model tech classroom. She was recognized in 2018 as a WPT Education Innovator by Wisconsin Public Television Education team. Twitter: K8TMiller

Looking for More Resources for Music Teachers?

Hello! I’m Katie Wardrobe – an Australian music technology trainer and consultant with a passion for helping music teachers through my business Midnight Music.

I’m a qualified teacher but no, I don’t currently teach in a school. I help teachers through my online professional development space – the Midnight Music Community – where there are tutorial videos, courses, links and downloadable resources.

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I like to focus on easy ways to incorporate technology into what you are already doing in your music curriculum through a range of creative projects. I also run live workshops and have presented at countless conferences and other music education events.

If you want simple, effective ideas for using technology in music education, I would LOVE to help you inside the Midnight Music Community.

Learn more and take a sneak peek inside